A 66-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter from Belleville, Illinois has been identified as the shooter who opened fire on Republican members of Congress Wednesday morning at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, the Washington Post reports.
The legislators were warming up for practice about 7 a.m. when gunfire erupted on the field resulting in at least 5 shot and injured including Rep. Steve Scalise, 2 Capitol Police, a Congressional aide, and Hodgkinson, at the time.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, is from Belleville, Illinois, and was identified as the shooter by law enforcement, as reported by the Washington Post. A motive for the shooting is not yet officially known, but Hodgkinson’s Facebook page shows he had a high interest in politics and was a Bernie Sanders supporter. It also shows evidence Hodgkinson was a Trump hater.
Hodgkinson’s Facebook page features a banner image of Senator Bernie Sanders and a profile picture about Democratic Socialism. His profile picture says, “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: ‘We the People’ Since 1776.
Hodgkinson is a Belleville, Illinois, native, according to his Facebook page. He owned a company, JTH Inspections, also called JTH Construction, and studied at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
He went to Belleville Township High School and also studied flight training at Southwestern Illinois College.
His Facebook page also includes several political posts, including one on May 24 asking for signatures on a Change.org petition calling for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stop the NEXUS pipeline.
He also signed a petition on May 21 titled, “George H.W. Bush: Past Presidents Urge Congress to Launch Independent Investigation,” and shared that on his page as well.
On March 22 he wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
Hodgkinson campaigned for Sanders in Iowa while the Vermont lawmaker was running for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, the Washington Post reports.
Charles Orear, 50, of St. Louis, who worked alongside him, called Hodgkinson a passionate progressive who showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Orear told the newspaper. “I met him on the Bernie trail in Iowa, worked with him in the Quad Cities area.”
He said Hodgkinson is a “quiet guy,” “very mellow, very reserved,” who stayed with him at a fellow Sanders’s supporters home in Illinois.
“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” he told the Post. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
In August 2016, after Sanders had lost the Democratic nomination, he posted on Facebook, “I want Bernie to Win the White House,” along with a petition calling for Sanders to join the Green Party.
He was anti-Hillary Clinton, according to his Facebook posts.
In another post he wrote, “#ScreamAsOne #NeverVotingHill,” and “You’ve been warned DNC. I will NEVER vote Hillary. A nomination for Hillary equals a win for Trump. #NOTWithHer.”
He wrote, “Bernie is the Only Candidate in Decades that Really Cares about the Working Class. … Bernie is a Candidate of a Lifetime. We Need Bernie in the White House. Bernie is the Only Candidate Talking about the Issues.”
He Has Posted About His Anger With Congressional Republicans Several Times on His Facebook Page.
On a second Facebook page in his name, Hodgkinson wrote two days ago, “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.”
On June 12, he wrote, “Make America Great Again, Resign!,” along with a meme of Trump with the words, “All in all it’s just another prick in the wall.” He also wrote, “Trump is Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason” and “Trump is a Mean, Disgusting Person.”
Hodgkinson has also been critical of the Trump administration and called for Democrats to fight against it, as noted on Twitter:
His Wife Says He Had Been Living in Alexandria for 2 Months & Records Show He Did Not Renew His Business License
Hodgkinson was married, according to KMOV-TV. He also has a daughter and grandchildren, according to his wife’s Facebook page.
Hodgkinson, 66, owned a home inspection business in his home state, of Illinois, the newspaper reports.
According to his Facebook page, Hodgkinson “left” that job in December 2016, though it is not clear if he shut down the company or what the circumstances surrounding that were.
He described his job as being a “home inspector, Mold Air/Quality Tester.”
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Hodgkinson was a licensed home inspector from 1994 to 1997, when it expired. He held the same license again from 2003 to 2016, when it was not renewed.
His wife told ABC News that he had been living in Alexandria, Virginia, for about two months.
Police have not released any information about Hodgkinson’s motive. However, investigators were planning to obtain search warrants for a van that was at the scene of the shooting and for Hodgkinson’s Illinois home.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, died from his injuries after exchanging gunfire with the police. Hodgkinson shot and injured at least 4 others, including 2 Capitol Police, 1 Congressional aide, and Rep. Steve Scalise. Scalise is listed in stable condition at this time. If it were not for Scalise being House Majority Whip, there would have been no law enforcement officers present at the time of the shooting and the conditions could have been much more severe.
A neighbor, Aaron Meurer a neighbor of the Hodgkinsons in Belleville, Illinois, suggested that perhaps “this Democratic rhetoric made him snap. I know he was a pretty hardcore Democrat.”
“I knew he was a Democrat, a pretty hardcore one. I know he wasn’t happy when Trump got elected but he seemed like a nice enough guy,” recalled Meurer, who said the couple lived across the street for about six years.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday he is “sickened” by reports that the man who opened fire at a congressional baseball practice had volunteered on his presidential campaign.
“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” Sanders said in a statement. “I am sickened by this despicable act.”
What’s clear? Clearly Hodgkinson had some emotional problems. Clearly he needed additional professional help. Clearly he posted hatred to Republicans and Trump. Clearly he had a past police record and a few run ins with the law. Clearly he had used a weapon – a 12-gauge rifle. Clearly he had some anger management issues. Clearly he targeted Republicans at this baseball practice. Clearly it was a political and targeted attack against Republicans.
Regardless of how clear the evidence is, you can bet certain Democrats like Pelosi and others will use this incident to talk about the need for more gun control. The fact is, as Rand Paul stated, “Without the Capitol Hill police it would have been a massacre.” Paul described the scene as “sort of a killing field.”
President Trump decried the shooting of a top House Republican on Wednesday as a “very, very brutal assault” and called for all Americans to set aside differences and pray for the recovery of the victims.
Trump said that “many lives would have been lost without the heroic action” of the Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman.
“We may have our differences but we do well in times like these in times like these that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because above all they love our country,” said Trump, speaking from the White House’s Diplomatic Room. “We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace and that we are strongest when we are unified.”